The Cold Lake Jr. B Ice took time to honour their top players, with veteran forward Mike Harbich and goaltender Cody Janzen being named Most Valuable Players from the 2015-'16 season.
This season's team had one last gathering over the weekend for their annual awards banquet. Harbich was the big winner, taking home Top Scorer and Hardest Working Player in addition to MVP.
In 36 regular season games, Harbich was a force to be reckoned with for the Ice as he racked up 52 points with 30 goals and 22 assists. The Ice forward was previously named to a league Second Team All-Star for his performance throughout the season.
“Every game, game in and game out, they were the ones that battled hard and kept us in it. Mike scored some good goals and (Janzen) just was (Janzen) every game. We figured these guys were the ones that came every night and played. It was a pleasure to coach them,” said head coach Scott Hood.
Janzen was the one to keep the Ice in the game on many occasions during the season. The MVP goalie finished the regular season with .909 save percentage – recording almost 1,000 saves in 2015-'16.
“It's a good way to end the year. Playoffs didn't end how you want, but it's good for your personal achievement knowing it's your teammates and coaches that think that of you,” Janzen said of being recognized as MVP. “It started off slow. The team wasn't where we thought it was going to be at the beginning of the year, but I think in the end we came together as a team and finished a lot stronger than we started.”
Ending his second year with the team, Janzen was unsure whether or not he'll be returning in the fall.
Another player who was acknowledged for his outstanding contributions during the season was Cold Lake-native and Ice rookie Donovan Bibeau – who was awarded Rookie of the Year.
“It feels pretty good. I thought I had a pretty good season, everyone helped me out. I was a little nervous at the start but once I got to know everyone it was pretty good, it was a lot of fun,” said Bibeau.
While just in his first year with Jr. B, Bibeau ranked fifth on the Ice for points with 32. He picked up 16 goals and 16 assists in 34 regular season games with the team.
“I told him he was getting Rookie of the Year in November/December. He worked every night, at practice he was picking up the pucks, filling water bottles, cleaning the room, doing everything he needed to do,” said Hood. “Even on the ice he was a skilled forward, scored some goals. We just felt that he deserved it the most.”
There were a number of other Ice players honoured for the role they played on the team during the 2015-'16 season. Top Defenceman went to Guillaume St-Gelais, Most Improved Player was awarded to Curtis Gullackson, Curtis Witney took home Most Sportsmanlike and Most Dedicated player, and the award for Fan Favourite went to Christian Nypower.
The team will be going in to next season with the noticeable absence of three of their long-time players.
After four years with the Ice, Nypower and Chad Schulteiss played their final games of Jr. B, as well as Harbich who has been with the team for the past three years.
“Looking back from 18-years-old to 22-years-old, it's been a crazy four years. Looking back at those four years it was a lot of fun, winning every year made it a lot easier but the development has been pretty strong,” said Nypower, adding that he always remember his first year with the Ice.
“When you're young, your first for everything is always the best. Winning that first championship as just a kid at 18, I didn't really know what it was like and then I witnessed what the feeling was like and wanted to go for that every year.”
Knowing they will be down at least three forwards, the Ice will be looking to fill the empty roster spots at the end of April when they host their spring training camp.